First Posted: 9/2/2012
As he stepped to the no. 1 tee at Fox Hill on the morning of his 90th birthday, Louis Mischianti was the youngest guy in his foursome.
Mischianti was golfing with three of his long-time friends – Elmo Clemente, Howard Rottman and Sam Gelso – all World War II veterans, successful retired businessmen and regular golfers. They were all of born in 1922 and turned 90 years old this year.
The four have been Fox Hill members for a combined 211 years. Gelso, who grew up in the Oregon section of Pittston and lives in Jenkins, has been a member for 63 years.
Gelso graduated from old Pittston High in 1940, where he was a 140-pound guard on the football team blocking for Charley Trippi. “He used to say, ‘Sammy, gimme a foot.’ He’d slice through and be gone.”
Gelso and Trippi, who lives in Georgia, are still friends and talk to each other regularly.
Gelso was a Staff Sergeant in the Army Air Corps in WWII, serving in England and Germany. He and his father ran the No. 14 Coal Company in the 1950s. At peak production, they employed 550 men and pulled 1500 tons of anthracite out of shafts in Ports Blanchard. Later, he owned the Brocca Garages company. He also built and owned Avenue Lanes in Exeter, now Modern Lanes.
Gelso and his wife, Theresa, have a son, a dentist in Massachusetts and four grandchildren.
Howard Rottman grew up in Wilkes-Barre and lives in Kingston. He’s been a Fox Hill member for 58 years. In WWII, he was a Tech Sergeant in the Army Air Corps stationed in Cairo, Egypt assigned to the Air Transport Command.
He owned and operated the Wyoming Valley Garment Company, a manufacturer of men’s trousers, in Kingston. His wife is deceased. He has a son and four grandchildren.
Elmo Clemente grew up in Wilkes-Barre and lives in Kingston. He and his wife, Terry, have five sons and three grandchildren. Elmo’s brother was well known in Pittston where he ran Pat’s Shoe Repair on Broad Street. Elmo was a partner in the accounting firm of Snyder and Clemente which has 28 employees. “I still go in once a week to get a check,” he said, cracking up his buddies.
Clemente’s been a Fox Hill member for 50 years. In WWII, he was a Navy Lt. First Grade serving in the Pacific as an Executive Officer on board an amphibious assault ship or LSM (Landing Ship Medium) and landed tanks and combat troops during the assault on Okinawa.
Mischianti said to Clemente, “Maybe you landed me.”
Maybe he did. Mischianti was a Marine combat PFC who fought in the most famous Pacific battles at the Marshall Islands, Iwo Jima, Saipan and Tinian.
Mischianti’s first wife is deceased. He lives in Plains with his second wife, Jan. He has three children, eight grand children and five great-grandchildren, one of whom is a college student. He’s an avid reader and is currently reading the newly-released Joe Paterno biography.
Mischianti has been a Fox Hill member for 40 years, which means, unlike the other three he has to pay dues.
Fox Hill waives dues for 50-year members. Mischianti joked that he was going to get the other three to chip in for his membership.
Mischianti grew up in Old Forge. He owned and operated Hi-Grade Pants in Taylor.
The golfing buddies also enjoy playing gin at the club and poker at Mohegan Sun.
The obvious question for the foursome: Can you shoot your age?
Clemente pointed at the birthday boy Mischianti and said, “Louis can.”
Mischianti laughed and said, “It’s easier now that I’m 90. I don’t have to shoot in the 80s.”